In what was billed as perhaps the Southeastern Conference's most prolific offensive shootout of the season to date, Texas A&M and Ole Miss brought together some of the top offensive prospects in the college game Saturday at Oxford, Miss. NFL clubs credentialed to scout the game included the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. Led by Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel, potential NFL talent was all over the field on the offensive side.
Here is a look at how a few of the best ones fared in Texas A&M's 41-38, last-second win.
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel: Johnny the Runner made his most impressive appearance of the season as Manziel picked up a season-high 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, much of it coming at the most crucial times. On the first play of the game, Manziel served notice that it was going to be a wild night with a 17-yard run through the heart of the Ole Miss defense. He picked up 9 on the ground a few plays later and fired a perfect 35-yard completion to Travis Labhart to set up an opening-drive touchdown. On Texas A&M's second possession, Manziel appeared to be injured and was helped off the field after clutching his left knee on a scramble. There was no contact with an Ole Miss defender on the play, however, and Manziel was back in the game on the following series.
He wasn't any worse for it.
On a key third-and-long, Manziel scrambled out of the pocket and juked defensive back Mike Hilton in the open field so badly that Hilton fell in trying to make the stop. He picked up 24 on the play, but the Aggies eventually had to punt.
In the second half, Manziel proved human with two crucial turnovers that helped Ole Miss take a late lead. He threw a crucial interception near the end of the third quarter in the Ole Miss end zone, with A&M driving to perhaps put the game away. Soon after, a Manziel fumble was cashed in for another Rebels touchdown, putting Ole Miss ahead 31-24.
In true Johnny Football fashion, however, Manziel led a game-winning drive in the closing minutes with some nifty passes and runs that set up a 33-yard field goal as time expired. For the night, Manziel completed 31 of 39 passes for 346 yards and took just one sack.
Texas A&M LT Jake Matthews: Expected by some to be the first left tackle chosen in next spring's NFL draft, Matthews squared off with Ole Miss star freshman Robert Nkemdiche for much of the first quarter and did a nice job on him, particularly in pass protection. Nkemdiche bullrushed for the most part, but unsuccessfully. Nkemdiche was strong enough to drive Matthews' upper body backward on a few plays, but each time, Matthews' footwork allowed him to maintain balance and finish the block. Nkemdiche exited in the first half with a hamstring strain and did not return, giving Matthews an even better opportunity to dominate.
He did so at virtually every turn.
Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief: After posting his best game of the season last week, Moncrief got off to a slow start Saturday with no catches in the first quarter. He did, however, draw a pass intereference call on a deep pass from Bo Wallace that helped key a scoring drive. Moncrief had a bad-looking drop on a post route over the middle to begin the third quarter on a Wallace pass that hit him in the stomach. He finished with just one catch for 3 yards. Moncrief (6-3, 226), a junior, had nearly 1,000 receiving yards as sophomore and is considered Ole Miss' top pro prospect.
Texas A&M WR Mike Evans: Like Moncrief, the star sophomore wasn't thrown to much in the first half. The one time they did, on a deep pass down the right sideline, Rebels defensive back Charles Sawyer had tight coverage and helped force an incompletion. Evans caught a short screen pass on TAMU's last first-half possession, but was otherwise a non-factor early. He made an impressive 26-yard reception in which he hurdled a tackler and carried two others inside the Ole Miss 10 to set up a game-tying score with 3:07 remaining. Evans finished with four catches for 46 yards.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.